The Paua Industry Council (PIC) has praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a sting operation that uncovered an illegal paua operation.
PIC chief executive officer, Jeremy Cooper, said poachers put the whole resource at serious risk.
Hawke’s Bay Seafoods and director Giancarlo (Joe) D’Esposito have today been sentenced after pleading guilty to buying paua in contravention of the Fisheries Act. The MPI operation saw 1140 kilograms of black market paua bought by Hawke’s Bay Seafoods.
Cooper praised MPI and the undercover fisheries officer who posed as an illegal seller of paua to D’Esposito.
“These guys did a brilliant job. It’s not easy to get a bust of this size and they deserve all the credit.”
Cooper said the industry would not tolerate thieves threatening the paua resource.
“This is greed, pure and simple. Paua is a highly prized recreational catch and particularly important to Maori. By buying illegal fish, they are undercutting the commercial price and depleting the resource at the same time.
“We manage the paua stocks carefully and mongrels who don’t give a damn about sustainability make my blood boil.”
D’Esposito was sentenced to 10 months home detention and 200 hours community service. Hawke’s Bay Seafoods Limited received a $27,600 fine.
“Let’s hope this sends a very strong message to anyone poaching or buying the illegally caught fish, although I believe an order on the prohibition of fishing activity would have been appropriate here,” said Cooper.